Curren$y - Pilot Talk II
While similar in feel to it's predecessor, Pilot Talk, this follow-up is much less commercial in approach.
With a resume thrice as long as expected from an artist who so recently gained national attention -- No Limit Records signee until 2005, Young Money until 2007, dropping a jaw-dropping 10 mixtapes since 2008 earning him a spot on XXL’s vaunted Freshmen ‘10 cover -- N.O.’s Hot Spitta has cultivated his corner of the Rap-o-sphere so potently that the aroma defines expectations. His lazy flow and unconventional rhyme schemes and seemingly train-of-thought ramblings have always been the roots of his appeal. It’s what fans appreciate about him first. It’s half of what makes Pilot Talk 2 (his second album this year) engaging despite it’s consistently limited content.
Take album opener, “Airborne Aquarium” for example, where Curren$y meanders about his T-top ’87 Corvette, smashing under his new pool table, his chick who calms his “bad nerves” so he calls her “his Ritalin” and other contextual aimlessness. The track works because of the way lines like “Emotional luggage / Nothing of it / I don’t check bags / I just carry on leave that bullshit in the past” bounce all over the track’s hopping snares and lurking flutes. The same combination carries cooled out cut, “Michael Knight”. From the dope Paid In Full movie reference that opens the first verse to the second’s unflinching conclusion (“Survive rough land / Cactus plants growing in dessert sands / Alive I stand / Left for dead though a nigga didn’t die / I got highed up so I could autograph the sky”), Curren$y survives because he floats so erratically.
“Flight Briefing”’s triumphant high hats and bluesy intonations and the presence of arguably the album’s most introspective verse adds a quick hit of celebration to PT2. It’s nearly impossible not to feel a sense of inspiration when hearing Spitta earnestly dissect his atypical path to recognition:
“With these lazy eyes I’ve seen / More than you can see in seven lifetimes / Get you on track / Got the fresh scoop from inside / Give you insight on the situation cause I’ve done it twice / Done the dotted line tight rope walk / Where the suits want results they don’t talk / Dozens of songs locked away / and rotting in a vault / No one to blame it was solely my fault / No salt thrown”
It’s nearly impossible not to picture Curren$y and Dom Kennedy flying down a beach side highway somewhere, passing the joint back and forth, “Ocean’s in the back, Porsche’s in the front,” when floating to the trumpets and subtle electric bass strings on “Real Estates” -- even if the song offers little more than women and whips. Swagger alone isn’t a substitute for range, but it is enough to leave an impression; to appreciate the groove.
Regardless of what subject Spitta starts on, women and weed will eventually wander it’s way into the verse. It’s not a surprise. It’s part of the train-of-thought nature of his style and the reason there isn’t a track longer than four minutes and 48 seconds on any of his last four projects: his content is so focused that anything extra is an overkill. His lazy, unconventional flow adds just enough depth to require dissection to keep up, yet the outcome is always predictable. There’s rarely a surprise ending so the production becomes infinitely more important to overall replay value, and Spitta’s ear for beats is far from suspect.
Ski Beatz and The Senseis laced the album with eight of the thirteen track album’s bluesy, smoked-out sound bed, delivering the foundation for the other half of what makes Pilot Talk 2 engaging. “Montreux,” with it’s organ keys, be-bop high hats and culminating horn section feels like Jazz night at B.B. Kings or, as it’s title is derived, The Montreux in New Orleans.
Curren$y’s unabashedly brash commentary rambles lovely over “A Gee”’s flat electric chords and the uplifting horns on “Highed Up” appropriately elevate Spitta’s hazy octave. The Monsta Beatz produced, “Famous”, works somehow despite sounding like the theme music to 1980s TV drama, Moonlighting. The piano keys on “Silence” fall short even though it’s the album’s lone sonic detour. Not only does it feel out of place with the Bourbon Street groove maintained throughout the LP, but it’s drowsy pace combined with McKenzie Eddy’s whiny hook damn-near induces a weed nap.
Curren$y sounds at home over the left-of-center, blues-like production featured on Pilot Talk 2. While similar in feel to it’s predecessor, Pilot Talk, this follow-up is much less commercial in approach. The backdrop, though sometimes redundant, is more intimate, substituting any real peaks of audio genius for a solid, cohesive chilled-out-smoke-and-float ambiance. Raekwon on the “Michael Knight (Remix)” -- which differs only with the inclusion of The Chef’s verse, clogging the album with essentially the same song twice -- is the lone name guest appearance this time around. Unfortunately, Young Roddy, Trademark Da Skydiver and Fiend do little to erase the memory of Snoop Dogg, Jay Electronica, Devin The Dude, Mos Def, Big K.R.I.T., Wiz Khalifa on the original. All three seem unnecessary considering how they showed up only to deliver unmemorable verses. Curren$y is less of a lyricist kicking weighty bars and picturesque stanzas and convoluted enigmas, but rather the exact opposite. On Pilot Talk 2, he’s more of a mood: a visceral rapper spitting in unpredictable flows and weeded-out ramblings that connect over jazzy high hats and bluesy arrangements. Expected or otherwise, sometimes that’s all that’s needed.